An Introduction to Long COVID
As if the different strains and variants of COVID-19 weren’t enough to bedazzle our minds, we now have another thing to wrap our minds around – Long COVID. Wondering what it is? We’re here to help you understand just that. Let’s talk about it, shall we?
What is Long COVID?
Long COVID is a term used to describe the long-term symptoms and effects some COVID-19 survivors experience for weeks or months after the initial illness. As the CDC explains, these symptoms can be ongoing, returning, or new.
This makes many wonder about the difference between Long COVID and regular COVID-19 symptoms and how we can distinguish between the two, as some people have symptoms lasting for several days after getting the virus.
How to Distinguish between Long COVID and Regular COVID-19 Symptoms?
While there is no diagnostic procedure to confirm if a person is suffering from Long COVID, the CDC places a 4-weeks mark to distinguish between these long-term post-COVID conditions and regular COVID symptoms. It is at four weeks that most people who get the virus start to feel better. If someone doesn’t, it could be a sign of Long COVID. The exact diagnosis is made by a healthcare provider based on health examination, details of COVID-19 diagnosis, and health history. It’s not an easy diagnosis to make, even for health professionals, though.
What are the Symptoms of Long COVID?
Just like the actual infection, Long COVID doesn’t affect everyone the same way. People who develop Long COVID can have a wide range of symptoms over different lengths of time. But the following are some of the most commonly reported ones:
● Fatigue or a feeling of tiredness that affects daily routine
● Shortness of breath
● Changes in senses of smell and taste
● Feeling dizzy when they stand up
● Sleep problems
● Brain fog (difficulty thinking and/or concentrating)
● Stomach pain
● Skin rash
● Joint or muscle pain
● Chest pain
● Palpitations (pounding heart)
● Anxiety or depression
Many people with Long COVID have also reported worsening of (certain) symptoms after performing activities that involve physical or mental effort. Women may also experience changes in their menstrual cycles.
As you can see, Long COVID symptoms aren’t very specific. This can lead to difficulties in diagnosis or even lead to misdiagnosis.
Long COVID May Also Cause New Health Conditions
As devastating as it may sound, research shows that some people, particularly those with severe COVID-19 infection, may also develop new health conditions during Long COVID. These may include autoimmune diseases and conditions affecting various body organs, including the heart, brain, kidneys, and lungs.
Who Can Get Long COVID?
Anyone who gets the COVID-19 virus is at the risk of developing Long COVID, including people who remained asymptomatic during the infection.
The Sum Up – How to Avoid Long COVID?
Even though we’re in the third year of the pandemic, the discovery of Long COVID is relatively new. Hence, we know very little about it. Even for researchers and healthcare professionals, it is a mysterious condition that they struggle to define, identify, and treat. Moreover, there’s nothing we can do (as of yet) to eliminate the risk of Long COVID once someone gets the virus.
In this scenario, your best bet is the precaution. Don’t let go of that mask just yet. Continue to wear it and practice other COVID-19 preventive measures to protect yourself from the SARS COV-2 virus.